Fayyad Promises PA Support for East J'lem Schools

Palestinian prime minister cancels visits after authorities keep him out.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad yesterday visited a boy's high school in the neighborhood of Al-Barid, north of Jerusalem, in territory considered part of Area B, and where PA officials are allowed. Fayyad canceled yesterday morning a planned visit to a school in the neighborhood of Al-Salam near the Shuafat refugee camp, which is considered part of Jerusalem's municipal territory.

The cancellation followed efforts by Israeli authorities and rightist politicians to prevent Fayyad, in his official capacity, from going to areas considered "East Jerusalem."

Senior military sources were critical yesterday of Israel's conduct in the Fayyad visit to East Jerusalem. They said that Israel had made a mistake when it opted to confront the PA prime minister over the visit.

"Were it not for Israeli objections, no one would have paid attention to Fayyad. But we are the ones who helped him make the rounds of the international media," the sources said.

They noted that Fayyad lives in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and as such is in Jerusalem and its environs all the time in any case.

Fayyad - Bar-On - Nov 2
Daniel Bar-On

In the days that preceded the planned visit, MK Danny Danon (Likud ) decided to visit the neighborhood of Al-Salam at the time Fayyad would be there. On Monday, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch issued an injunction banning any Palestinian Authority activity inside Israeli territory.

Fayyad's visit was scheduled as part of a ceremony that would celebrate the refurbishment of 15 Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem. The morning hours yesterday saw a noticeable presence of Palestinian security guards at the school in the Al-Barid neighborhood, even though it is not considered part of PA territory.

Dozens of journalists also arrived at the scene, expecting a confrontation between Fayyad and Israeli police since it was not clear at first whether the school fell within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries.

The PA appointee for governor of Jerusalem, Adnan al-Husseini, came to the school, as did the Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein and leading Fatah figures.

Upon his arrival Fayyad planted an olive tree at the entrance to the school and applauded the efforts of the Palestinians to stand up to Israeli settlement incursions. Fayyad called Jerusalem the "heart of the future Palestinian state and its eternal capital."

The Palestinian prime minister emphasized that the PA had managed both to refurbish the schools and carry out other reconstruction work in the Al-Salam neighborhood, such as recent road work.

Fayyad also promised that the PA will continue its assistance to Palestinian institutions in the city, especially educational institutions, and would help build new schools and offer other services.